What’s in our Waterways: An Overview

25 October 2012

This post, published with the permission of Abraxis LLC, continues Droplets theme on Emerging Pollutants of Concern (EPoCs) – and the things in wastewater that end up in our sources of drinking water!

Today’s heading … is the title of a report authored by Morgan Basiuk and Rachel Brown of
the South East Alberta Water Alliance (Seawa). Through the cooperative
efforts of the Alberta Association of Colleges and Technical Institutes, the
City of Medicine Hat, Hyperion Research Ltd., a private donation and the
Defense Research and Development Canada, the work, using thirteen Abraxis
ELISA kits, was performed during the summer of 2012. 

Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, industrial chemicals and endocrine
disruptors in the water-cycle are becoming increasingly concerning. In the
last decade, traces of pharmaceuticals in the levels of nanograms to
micrograms per liter have been reported in surface waters, wastewater,
groundwater and, to a smaller degree, drinking water. These chemicals can
enter the environment and waterways from human and animal excretion,
wastewater effluent, treated sewage sludge, industrial waste, medical waste
and landfill leachate.

It is important to determine the presence of these chemicals in the
waterways to determine the necessity to implement policies and remediation
procedures. The presence of these chemicals in the environment is concerning
for a number of reasons. One major concern is the continual increase in the
development of resistance to pharmaceuticals and antimicrobial products.
Furthermore, the accumulation and presence of these chemicals in the water
ways can affect animal and human health in a multitude of ways. To a great
extent however, these harmful health effects are unknown due to the lack of
research. What is known is that many of these compounds have cancer-causing
effects and some can act as endocrine-disrupters by mimicking the body’s
hormones. Thus, this research is very important due to the potential these
chemicals have to harm the aquatic environment and subsequently humans if
they make their way into drinking water.

This particular study was conducted to evaluate the methodology for the
determination of several chemicals in water samples using Enzyme-Linked
Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) kits purchased from Abraxis LLC (Warminster, PA,
USA). Methodological protocols were adapted from the procedures provided by
Abraxis LLC and trials were conducted. Provided kit standards of known
chemical concentrations were put through multiple trials until confidence
was built in the methodology and consistent linear standard curves were
produced. A methodology for appropriate analysis of the resulting absorbance
values was also determined. Precise and accurate methods were determined for
each compound that we now practice with confidence.

A secondary objective of this research was to determine the concentrations
of these chemicals at selected sites around Medicine Hat. These included the
South Saskatchewan River downstream of Medicine Hat, Seven Persons Creek,
Ross Creek, Medicine Hat Wastewater Treatment Plant influent and effluent,
tap water and deionized water. The following chemicals were analyzed:
alkylphenols, sulfamethazine, sulfamethoxazole, glyphosates, benzo(a)pyrene,
triclosan, estrogens, ethinylestradiol, testosterone, avermectins, 2,4-D,
microcystins and carbamates. The results for each of these compounds are
outlined in separate reports for each compound. These reports include
background information on the chemical, the methodology we determined and
tabulated data of the resulting concentrations.”

A copy of the report is available upon request.

One Response to What’s in our Waterways: An Overview

  1. James Papsdorf says:

    I lived in Medicine from 1941-1958 and am very interested in this research. Keep up the great work !

    James Papsdorf

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